From the onset of his death, the stories swirled about his drug use and visits to rehab and how drugs most likely caused his death. Shortly thereafter it was discovered that he was killed by a “mixed drug toxicity” of heroin and alcohol.
Here’s a guy who seemingly had everything going for him—fame, money, talent. While none of us outside his circle of friends know anything about his personal life or struggles, what this does show is the seriousness of the disease of alcoholism and addiction. If left untreated, they kill.
In June, I had a good friend, and former sponsee, take his life. He struggled with alcohol and prescription drugs in the end, and apparently gave into his disease and chose a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
Both these scenarios are tragic and both are preventable. I have also been asked a lot about interventions, and they can be very useful. However, they aren’t always successful because the person involved has to want to get clean and sober in order for it to work for the long haul. It’s hard work and no one can do it for them. Yes, people go to rehab when their friends and family insist on it. Do they benefit? It varies. Rehab and recovery programs aren’t like physical therapy sessions where, after a few weeks or months, your doctor says “you’re cured!” They are a lifelong commitment.
Monteith did go to rehab, as we have learned, and my friend did work his AA program for a while. He then started isolating himself from others and got further away from his recovery. Obviously, I don’t know what happened with Monteith, but my assumption is that he wasn’t active in his recovery. This disease is cunning, baffling, and powerful, and in my ten years of sobriety I have seen it take its share of lives. And, if you don’t know by now, it doesn’t discriminate. The days of the bum-on-the-street alcoholic stereotype are over. Rich, poor, gay, straight, black, white, a homeless woman or a TV star.
There are other factors that play into addiction, like depression or bipolar tendencies. Luckily, most of these conditions are treatable with the right diagnosis and doctor. What I see out of all this is that in order for me to stay sober and help others I have to work at it. There are days when I don’t, and I feel off balance…a little crazy. I may not want to pick up a drink but I’m certain that I would if I didn’t work the program of recovery. I can’t make it on my own, and neither could these two.
Have a sobriety question for Keith? Email him at email@example.com.